Players not the sole driver behind Mitchell suspension

James Mortimer     29 Jun 2012    

De Klerk, the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) President, spoke to reporters in Johannesburg yesterday to clear up some of the details of the situation.

Originally it was stated that forward's coach Johan Ackermann and back's coach Carlos Spencer would oversee the team, but the GLRU announced earlier this week that Ackermann would become a caretaker head coach.

De Klerk said information given against Mitchell was not solely player driven, as he sought to clear up an issue that had been open to plenty of speculation over recent days.

"It is inaccurate to say it is a player-driven thing and I would like us to move away from that," De Klerk said.

"It was inclusive of a number of processes and it wasn't necessarily the players on their own, and that is the way the position stands."

Mitchell has declined to comment, saying he would speak via his lawyers, and de Klerk would not go into any further detail.

"We are not at liberty to disclose that information and I think you would also have empathy with the Lions' situation in terms of the sub judice nature of the case," he said.

"We cannot divulge information around that action obviously, for presenting John with the opportunity to defend the allegations, and without exposing ourselves as the Lions to certain further actions against us."

South African media reported that Lions captain Josh Strauss 'led the revolt' against Mitchell.

"This is still sub judice and we can't say that Josh led that process towards that, and it is inaccurate to say that," de Klerk said.

"There are a number of issues that we are addressing that involve the suspension."

While originally a final decision and response was flagged to occur before Investec Super Rugby resumed, de Klerk said he was unsure how long it would take to close the matter.

"It could take a week, it could take two weeks," De Klerk said.

"We would seek to obviously wrap the thing up as quickly as possible, but you know, how long is a piece of string with these type of actions? We are hopeful that we will have a quick resolution to it."

New interim coach Ackermann had little to add on the matter.

"I had a good relationship with John and I've learnt a lot from John, so I can't fault that," said Ackermann.

"My passion is just rugby, and with what is happening between John and the Union, I'm not involved with that. I just want to prepare the side as well as I can.

"I am still the assistant coach in my eyes and I want to do as good a job as I can and let it go its way."